Spilled Milk: E. coli Alert

contaminated milk products

Spilled Milk: E. coli Alert

Several days ago there was a recall of milk sourced from Lactalis Australia. The contaminated milk was sold under various brands and was available in Coles, Woolworths, IGA and various smaller retailers throughout Victoria and parts of NSW. The full list of locations and product names can be found here.

Image from Food standards Australia and New Zealand

It is not uncommon for food to be recalled due to E. coli contamination, which can cause health issues of varying severity. With this in mind, it’s worth taking a look at what this category of bacteria can do to the body.

Not all E. coli are malicious

Firstly, not all E. coli are malicious. Some strains are more or less harmless in humans who have a healthy immune system. Harmless E.coli are probably present in your gut right now, helping to break down food and aid in the production of vitamin K. That being said, the rest can be pretty nasty so it’s definitely worth respecting the recall notice.

There are some strains of E. coli that can cause minor health issues, with typical nasty symptoms including diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting (which may last up to ten days). While considered minor, these symptoms can lead to greater complications, like dehydration, due to the loss of bodily fluids.

E. coli can be particularly harmful to the elderly

On the more serious end of the spectrum, E. coli has been known to cause instances of pneumonia and meningitis. Pneumonia can be fatal among the elderly population and immunocompromised individuals. So much so, it was Australia’s 9th leading cause of death in 2017.

Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) is a particularly dangerous type of the bacteria. EHEC releases toxins that cause gastroenteritis and bloody diarrhoea. This can then lead to haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which causes kidney failure in 5% of cases.

Ranging from minor to major, none of the potential impacts of E. coli infection are safe and food safety should always be paramount.

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